Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Who am I?

One of the things that struck me the most about “Eat Pray Love” is that in order to find her home, in order to find peace, Liz not only had to leave her home, her state, but she had to leave her country…and not only did she move to one other country, but to three. I had never thought that you could find yourself, by leaving behind everything that made you who you are. Throughout the semester, my views on post colonial nations, on homelands, on the definition of home, and the definition of my own self have changed drastically with every book we have read, with every new perspective presented. No novel we have read has touched me as much as “Eat Pray Love”. This novel is shockingly, beautifully, real. In knowing that this is an actual experience of the writer, that these are real thoughts, real events, real thought processes, allows for a connection with the author and the story that I have not felt as strongly in the other novels.

I have never been a fan of travel. I enjoy going on vacations for weeks at a time, but only in the company of those who I feel most close to, most secure with. I only like to leave my home if I am bringing a piece of it with me. I have never had any desire to live in another state, let alone another country…until now. Reading the first part of the novel that takes place in Italy filled me with a desire not only to live in another country, experience another culture, language, place, but to do so alone. I have always felt the need to be surrounded by my family, loved ones, and friends which I know is a perfectly natural instinct, but I have never considered the benefits and power of doing something completely on your own. The thought of traveling alone as certainly never crossed my mind, I can hardly imagine going to a restaurant alone, not to mention a restaurant in another county. This novel changed that. Seeing how the narrator was able to truly find herself and her home by leaving her home offered me a perspective and a possibility that I have never considered before.

In all of the other novels we have read this semester there has been a focus on maintaining, holding on to, and fighting for your homeland. In “Things Fall Apart” we see a homeland changed, and are left with a desire for change not to have occurred, for there to be something done about the invasion. We then moved to Love and Longing in Bombay where we saw homelands being defined by different times, by old and new ideals, and the struggle between them. It made me question whether westernization is beneficial, or whether we lose something along the way, do we lose the stories, the mystery, the beauty as we modernize? Potiki showed the beauty of oral story telling and the power of tradition. We were able to see a people fighting for their homeland, fighting for the land, and were able to see the beauty in holding on to tradition. It was when reading this novel that I began to feel a twinge of jealousy. I found myself wishing that I had just one nationality or culture to connect with, to take pride in, to fight for, and my view of home and identity slowly changed as I tried to figure out where I fit as an American. As we moved to novels that more included America in the subject manner, and saw how cultures interacted and perceived America, I started to develop a different sense of home. I began to see that throughout all of these novels, what made home wasn’t necessarily the physical location, it wasn’t even necessarily the people or family…it was the individual. Home can be within yourself, and this is a concept I was unable to fully realize until reading “Eat Pray Love”. People all have different definitions on home because home is within yourself, and can be different for different people in different times in different nations. For some, home is a physical location, a building, for others home is their family and friends, something that they can carry in their hearts and with them, for others home is an entire location, a city or a country, for others home is tradition and culture, a connection to the past, and for others home is a security in their own identity.

I have always seen myself as a person who defined home mostly by their family and friends, and secondly by their state and country, but after reading “Eat Pray Love” it is my hope that I will be able to find a home in myself, that through my experiences I will be able to truly understand who I am after you take away my family, my friends, and my occupation as a student. When not defining myself by the people in my life, or what I am currently doing, who am I? What makes me…me?

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